Lent and Easter – The Lent Series – Part 1
For those of you who observe Lent, you'd have noticed that we haven’t posted anything about it yet. That’s because I’m still experiencing it for myself. I grew up in Australia in a Pentecostal church environment, and until some years ago, I didn’t even know Lent existed (yes, I grew up under a rock; or maybe just a different paradigm). I would love to know what you’re doing and what you’re reading for Lent! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Lenten period is the 40 days leading up to Easter, reflecting the 40 that Jesus spent in the desert preempting his ministry. Traditionally, in the West, it begins on Ash Wednesday, where the ashes of blessed palm leaves representing Jesus entrance into Jerusalem, are smeared in the shape of a cross on participants foreheads as a reminder of their humanity and mortality and as a symbol of repentance and humility.
In the East, it starts on a Sunday and follows a much more rigorous fasting plan. It’s a season in which fasting, prayer, charity and devotion to Scripture are to be given particular attention. On social media the questions “What are you giving up for Lent” and the declaration: “I’m giving up (fill in the blank) for Lent” are posted and shared on and commented on.
I guess this is why Lent is not as popular as Advent. Being reminded of one's mortality, humanity, and positioning ourselves for repentance and humility is not traditionally some of our favorite things. Advent is the preparation for birth, Lent is the preparation for death. However, in some beautiful way, they both lead to new, transformed life.
Pope Francis said:
“Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.”
Hang on, are we sleeping? Lethargic? Distracted?
Think about it.
“If Advent/Christmas is a revelation of God’s presence with us, then Lent/Easter is a revelation of God’s desire to use all of life for our wholeness and our healing— the revelation that he will pull life from death. Our ability to understand resurrection, our experience of both a personal Easter as well as the Easter of Christ, is shaped by our stance toward life and what it brings our way. Herein lies the purpose of Lent. Whether it is imposed by circumstances or chosen through spiritual discipline, Lent is about nurturing a posture that holds all things lightly, that ensures that our passions are subject to us and not the other way around. In Lent we learn that the meaning of life is not dependent upon the fulfillment of our dreams and aspirations. Nor is it lost within our brokenness and self-absorption. That meaning is still there— and it can be found. Lent cleanses the palate so that we can taste life more fully. It clears the lens so that we can see what we routinely miss within our circumstances. Lent and Easter reveal the God who is for us in all of life— for our liberation, for our healing, for our wholeness. Lent and Easter remind us that even in death there can be found resurrection.” Greg Pennoyer, “God For Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter.”
Death is something we avoid. It’s painful, hard, and brings up too many questions. Can good come from death?
We all face a thousand deaths in our lives. Some big and scary and heartbreaking, and others small, simple, and transforming. A reckoning, a letting go, moving on, never the same again.
I think we’re in a season of Lent, not just according to the religious calendar, but as a global community. The time is now to wake up, shake off lethargy, set aside distractions, ask ourselves hard questions, and do hard things. Die to our opinions and judgments and offenses and prejudices. Get quiet and honest. God is in this space as much as he is on the mountain top.
But that’s OK. Because hard things, we can do. There must be a death for there to be a resurrection.
Go to Part 2 – The Desert »